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Historic Fort Smith Offers Step Back in Time

by writecorner on 01/07/09 at 2:16 am

Visitors to Northwest Arkansas experience a trip back in time, thanks to Fort Smith’s rich frontier history. Revisit the Old West in a series of museums, tours, and landmarks that offer something for everyone.

A visit to Fort Smith’s historic attractions introduces visitors to a unique part of the Old West. Packed with museums, parks, and special events that emphasize Northwest Arkansas’ frontier history, the colorful characters and exciting events of the past are brought to life all year round.

One of the top attractions is the historic old courthouse, made famous by “Hangin” Judge Parker’s historic tenure. Visitors can see the original prisoner holdings, complete with historic graffeti scribbled by inmates long past, as well as the gallows site where Judge Parker’s convicts faced their fates. Historic displays inside the courthouse give visitors insights into historic trials, famous cases, and the adventurous stories behind the dark deeds, cunning criminals, and courageous U.S. marshals who were part of the scene.

The Forth Smith Museum also keeps the Old West alive in its collection. Items from the Parker household and courtroom are on display, along with rare antiques, guns, furniture, and toys from past eras. With rooms dedicated to other historic happenings in Northwest Arkansas, visitors will glimpse the full history of the region.

For visitors who want to experience a little piece of the past, they can catch an old-fashioned trolley at the Visitor’s Center and take a little trip into the past. With beautifully carved and gilded interiors and a personalized tour by the conductor, the trolley offers visitors a quick rest from their walking tour and a fun-filled piece of the past.

For the explorers at heart, a visit to the historic cemeteries of Fort Smith offer beautiful fall foliage, quiet walkways, and a unique perspective on the region’s history. Oak Cemetery hosts a series of seasonal events designed to educate locals and tourists alike on the rich history of Forth Smith. With “grave walks” that bring the cemetery’s residents to life through volunteer actors, participants can “meet” the celebrated individuals buried in many of the cemetery’s famous graves. Their tradition includes a “haunted” walk during the Halloween season that features many of the tragic stories and dark events of Fort Smith’s history.

History buffs and Old West fans will find a one-of-a-kind example of frontier life and “law on the border” waiting for them in Fort Smith’s historic district. Don’t miss the historic attractions and events this corner of Arkansas offers visitors.

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